St. Patrick’s Day festival preparations underway

St. Patrick’s Day festival preparations underway

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -There’s just a little over a week before the Saint Patrick’s Day Festival begins.

The City of Savannah, along with police and the Downtown Waterfront Association, held a meeting on Wednesday to address any questions or concerns businesses still might have ahead of the event.

All of the different agencies and organizations really wanted to make sure that anyone impacted by Saint Patrick’s Day festivities downtown, especially businesses, know exactly what’s going on. Anything from wristband sale locations and prices, to how long bars can be open and road closures, especially during the parade.

A Savannah Police representative made it clear that during the parade, the route will be closed to traffic until the entire route is cleared.

Bars are open until 2 a.m. each night of the festival, and wristbands will be sold for $10 apiece at multiple locations around the festival zone.

“To help make it a very safe and prosperous and fun event, we’ve got to get our barricades all roped around our stages so that our musicians - we’ve got four stages obviously again this year - so we just want to make sure it’s safe, and that folks aren’t jumping up and down on the stages," said Victoria Smith, Executive Director, Savannah Waterfront Association.

More than 300 pedestrian barriers will be set up along portions of busy thoroughfares like Whitaker and Bay streets. For businesses in the middle of the festival action along Bay and River streets, accommodations are being made to make sure they can get supplies when possible.

“Dana and I will be working very closely as far as folks with deliveries and hotel guests getting down to River Street,” Smith said. “For instance, Old Harbor Inn will have their entrance on Factors Walk, so we will work closely with everyone and make sure everyone can get in.”

One change on River Street this year will affect access to parking in the days leading up to the official festival.

The load-in time will happen a day earlier than usual this year, including Wednesday in addition to Thursday, to give event staff enough time to set everything up.

Also making its debut this year is a 500-pound piece of the famed Blarney Stone has been shipped overseas and will be displayed on Rousakis Plaza on River Street for festival-goers to see.

Those who pay a fee can kiss it and get their picture taken with it, and that money will go toward local and national charities.

“We’re really excited about raising millions of dollars for these charities this year by kissing the Blarney Stone," Smith said. "So you will walk away with a small token. For five dollars, you will walk away with a picture of you, your family, kissing the Blarney Stone, and we have to make this an annual event.”

The giant chunk of well-known stone was purchased by a local dermatologist, Dr. Sidney Smith.

Proceeds will benefit 10 charities, including Deep Center, Tybee Island Marine Science Center, and Employability.

The City of Savannah will host two more meetings next week to talk about the best ways to get around downtown during the festival, as well as mobility options and other finalized plans.

Copyright 2019 WTOC. All rights reserved.